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{{pp-vandalism|small=yes}}Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's idealised self image and attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Narcissism is a concept in psychoanalytic theory, which was popularly introduced in Sigmund Freud's essay On Narcissism (1914). The American Psychiatric Association has listed the classification narcissistic personality disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 1968, drawing on the historical concept of megalomania.Narcissism is also considered a social or cultural problem.It is a factor in trait theory used in various self-report inventories of personality such as the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory. It is one of the three dark triadic personality traits (the others being psychopathy and Machiavellianism). Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, narcissism is usually considered a problem in a person's or group's relationships with self and others. Narcissism is not the same as egocentrism.


File:Sisyphus Pushing His Stone up a Mountain (486x640).jpg|thumb|right|200px|The myth of Sisyphus tells about a man punished for his hubrishubrisThe term "narcissism" comes from the Greek myth about Narcissus (, ), a handsome Greek youth who, according to Ovid, rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. This caused Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus "lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour," and finally changed into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus.BOOK, Symington, Neville, Narcissism: A New Theory, 1993, H. Karnac Ltd., 6–7,weblink 9781855750470, {{failed verification|date=May 2016}} The concept of excessive selfishness has been recognized throughout history. In ancient Greece the concept was understood as hubris. It is only more recently that narcissism has been defined in psychological terms.{{citation needed|date=May 2016}}
  • In 1752 Jean-Jacques Rousseau's play Narcissus: or the Self-Admirer was performed in Paris.{{citation needed|date=May 2016}}
  • In 1898 Havelock Ellis, an English psychologist, used the term "Narcissus-like" in reference to excessive masturbation, whereby the person becomes his or her own sex objectBOOK, Millon, Theodore, Grossman, Seth, Million, Carrie, Meagher, Sarah, Ramnath, Rowena, Wiley, 978-0-471-23734-1, 343,weblink Personality Disorders in Modern Life, 2004,
  • In 1899, Paul Näcke was the first person to use the term "narcissism" in a study of sexual perversions.{{citation needed|date=May 2016}}
  • Otto Rank in 1911 published the first psychoanalytical paper specifically concerned with narcissism, linking it to vanity and self-admiration.
  • Sigmund Freud published a paper on narcissism in 1914 called (On Narcissism|"On Narcissism: An Introduction").{{citation|url=|title=Freud: On Narcissism|year=1998|website = CriticaLink|last= Zuern|first = John David|publisher = University of Hawaii}}
  • In 1923, Martin Buber published an essay "Ich und Du" (I and You), in which he pointed out that our narcissism often leads us to relate to others as objects instead of as equals.{{citation needed|date=May 2016}}

Traits and signs

|salign= right}}Four dimensions of narcissism as a personality variable have been delineated: leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, self-absorption/self-admiration, and exploitativeness/entitlement.JOURNAL, Horton, R. S., Bleau, G., Drwecki, B., 2006, Parenting Narcissus: What Are the Links Between Parenting and Narcissism?,weblink Journal of Personality, 74, 2, 345–76, 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00378.x, 16529580,, See p. 347.These criteria have been criticized because they presume a knowledge of intention (for example, the phrase "pretending to be").BOOK,weblink Readings in Philosophy of Psychology, Ned Joel, Block, 22 October 1980, Methuen, 22 October 2017, Google Books, 9780416742008, Behavior is observable, but intention is not. Thus classification requires assumptions which need to be tested before they can be asserted as fact, especially considering multiple explanations could be made as to why a person exhibits these behaviors.

Seven deadly sins of narcissism

Psychiatrists Hotchkiss and James F. Masterson identified what they called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:Hotchkiss, Sandy & Masterson, James F. Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)
  1. Shamelessness: Narcissists are often proudly and openly shameless; they are not bound emotionally by the needs and wishes of others. Narcissists hate shame{{huh?|date=February 2019}}, and consider it "toxic"{{fact|date=February 2019}}, as shame implies they are not perfect and need to change. Narcissists prefer guilt over shame, as guilt allows them to dissociate their actions from themselves - it's only their actions that are wrong, while their intention is good.
  2. Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to "dump" shame onto others.
  3. Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may "reinflate" their sense of self-importance by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
  4. Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person or their achievements.
  5. Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an "awkward" or "difficult" person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
  6. (wikt:exploit|Exploitation): Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other person is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed. This exploitation may result in many brief, short-lived relationships.
  7. Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist, there is no boundary between self and other.

Clinical and research aspects

Narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder affects an estimated 1% of the general population.BOOK, Theodore, Millon, 1996, Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV-TM and Beyond, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 393 WORK = PERSONALITY DISORDERS – NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER YEAR = 2006 AUTHOR1 = LEONARD C. GROOPMAN Psychopathology>pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), whereby the individual overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation. NPD was revised in the DSM-5. The general move towards a dimensional (personality trait-based) view of the Personality Disorders has been maintained. Some narcissists may have a limited or minimal capability to experience emotions.Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Personality Disorders: A Clinical Handbook Narcissistic personality disorder, p. 263

Treatment and management

The Cochrane Collaboration has commissioned two reviews of the evidence for psychological and medical treatments for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).JOURNAL, Psychological interventions for people with narcissistic personality disorder, Jutta M, Stoffers, Michael, Ferriter, Birgit A, Völlm, Simon, Gibbon, Hannah F, Jones, Conor, Duggan, Neele, Reiss, Lieb, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 27 March 2014, 10.1002/14651858.CD009690.pub2, In both cases, they suspended their initiatives after the authors had made no progress in over a year. There are no clear treatment strategies for NPD,JOURNAL, 20579503, Prevalence and treatment of narcissistic personality disorder in the community: a systematic review, Comprehensive Psychiatry, 51, 4, 333–9, 10.1016/j.comppsych.2009.09.003, 21 December 2009, Dhawan, N, Kunik, ME, Oldham, J, Coverdale, J, neither medication, nor Psychotherapy.WEB,weblink Narcissistic personality disorder:Diagnosis and treatment, Mayo Clinic, 13 April 2018, There is evidence that therapies effective in the treatment of other personality disorders do not generalise to NPD.JOURNAL, 17365156, The efficacy of various modalities of psychotherapy for personality disorders: a systematic review of the evidence and clinical recommendations, International Review of Psychiatry, 19, 1, 25–38, 19 February 2007, Verheul, R, Herbrink, M, 10.1080/09540260601095399, Psychiatric diagnoses are not formulated for stability over time.{{clarify|reason=This sounds jargonistic and needs to be put in terms a layman can understand.|date=April 2018}} Spontaneous recovery from mental ill-health does sometime occur and many comorbid conditions (e.g. anxiety) can be treated.{{citation needed|date=April 2018}}

Required element within normal development

Karen Horney saw the narcissistic personality as a temperament trait molded by a certain kind of early environment. She did not see narcissistic needs and tendencies as inherent in human nature.Paris, Bernard J, Personality and Personal Growth, edited by Robert Frager and James Fadiman, 1998Craig Malkin called a lack of healthy narcissism "echoism" after the nymph Echo in the mythology of Narcissus.BOOK, Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad-and Surprising Good-About Feeling Special, Craig Malkin, 978-0062348104, 2015, Healthy narcissism might exist in all individuals.Freud said that narcissism was an original state from which the individual develops the love object.BOOK, Nagera, Humberto, Narcissism (pp. 107ff.),weblink Basic Psychoanalytic Concepts on the Libido Theory,weblink 2012, 1969, Karnac Books, London, 978-1-78181098-9, {{qualify evidence}} He argued that healthy narcissism is an essential part of normal development. According to Freud, the love of the parents for their child and their attitude toward their child could be seen as a revival and reproduction of their own narcissism. The child has a megalomaniac omnipotence of thought; the parents stimulate that feeling because in their child they see the things that they have never reached themselves. Compared to neutral observers, parents tend to overvalue the qualities of their child. When parents act in an extreme opposite style and the child is rejected or inconsistently reinforced depending on the mood of the parent, the self-needs of the child are not met.{{Citation needed|date=June 2010}}Freud contrasted the natural development of active-egoistic and passive-altruistic tendencies in the individual with narcissism, in the former, and what Trevor Pederson referred to as echoism, in the latter.The Economics of Libido: Psychic Bisexuality, the Superego, and the Centrality of the Oedipus Complex (2015){{block quote|This is the place for two remarks. First, how do we differentiate between the concepts of narcissism and egoism? Well, narcissism, I believe, is the libidinal complement to egoism. When we speak of egoism, we have in view only the individual's advantage; when we talk of narcissism we are also taking his libidinal satisfaction into account. As practical motives the two can be traced separately for quite a distance. It is possible to be absolutely egoistic and yet maintain powerful object-cathexes, in so far as libidinal satisfaction in relation to the object forms part of the ego's needs. In that case, egoism will see to it that striving for the object involves no damage to the ego. It is possible to be egoistic and at the same time to be excessively narcissistic—that is to say, to have very little need for an object, whether, once more, for the purpose of direct sexual satisfaction, or in connection with the higher aspirations, derived from sexual need, which we are occasionally in the habit of contrasting with 'sensuality' under the name of 'love'. In all these connections egoism is what is self-evident and constant, while narcissism is the variable element. The opposite to egoism, altruism, does not, as a concept, coincide with libidinal object-cathexis, but is distinguished from it by the absence of longings for sexual satisfaction. When someone is completely in love, however, altruism converges with libidinal object-cathexis. As a rule the sexual object attracts a portion of the ego's narcissism to itself, and this becomes noticeable as what is known as the 'sexual overvaluation' of the object. If in addition there is an altruistic transposition of egoism on to the sexual object, the object becomes supremely powerful; it has, as it were, absorbed the ego." (Freud, Introductory Lectures (1919), pp. 417–18)}}Where the egoist can give up love in narcissism, the altruist can give up on competition, or "the will," in echoism. The individual first has a non-ambivalent relations of fusion with authority or love figures, which are characterized by the egoistic or altruistic drives. Second, the individual can move to defusion from authority or love figures which leads to repetitions of ambivalent, narcissistic or echoistic relations. In the third movement the individual becomes the dead or absent parental figure that never returned love to the echoist, or the perfect, grandiose parental figure in narcissism. While egoism and narcissism concern dynamics of power and inferiority/superiority, Pederson argues that altruism and echoism concern dynamics of belonging and inclusion/exclusion. Pederson has two types of echoists: the "subject altruist" and the "object altruist", with the former being concerned with the belonging of others and loving them, and the latter being concerned with their own belonging and being loved. The subject altruist is self-effacing, a people pleaser, and sacrifices her desire to help others who are outsiders become insiders, or to be the submissive helper of an insider. The object altruist is gregarious, a people person, and wants to be interesting which is based on wanting to fit in and not be an outsider or wanting to be unique as an insider. Both types of echoists show issues with being submissive, having problems saying no, and avoiding conflict.

In relation to the pathological condition

Freud's idea of narcissism described a pathology which manifests itself in the inability to love others, a lack of empathy, emptiness, boredom, and an unremitting need to search for power, while making the person unavailable to others.BOOK, The Analysis of the Self. A systematic approach to the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders, Kohut, The University of Chicago Press, 1971, London, Healthy narcissism has to do with a strong feeling of "own love" protecting the human being against illness. Eventually, however, the individual must love the other, "the object love to not become ill". The individual becomes ill as a result of the frustration created when he is unable to love the object.WEB,weblink, psychoanalyticus Willy Depecker, Stijn, Blomme,, 22 October 2017, {{better source|date=April 2018}} In pathological narcissism such as the narcissistic personality disorder, the person's libido has been withdrawn from objects in the world and produces megalomania. The clinical theorists Kernberg, Kohut and Theodore Millon all saw pathological narcissism as a possible outcome in response to unempathic and inconsistent early childhood interactions. They suggested that narcissists try to compensate in adult relationships.JOURNAL, 10.1207/S15327965PLI1204_1, Morf, Caroline C., Rhodewalt, Frederick, Frederick Rhodewalt, Unraveling the Paradoxes of Narcissism: A Dynamic Self-Regulatory Processing Model, Psychological Inquiry, 12, 4, 177–96, 2001,weblink The pathological condition of narcissism is, as Freud suggested, a magnified, extreme manifestation of healthy narcissism.Healthy narcissism has been suggested to be correlated with good psychological health. Self-esteem works as a mediator between narcissism and psychological health. Therefore, because of their elevated self-esteem, deriving from self-perceptions of competence and likability, high narcissists are relatively free of worry and gloom.JOURNAL, 10.1037/0022-3514.87.3.400, Sedikides, C., Rudich, E.A., Gregg, A.P., Kumashiro, Ml, Rusbult, C., Are Normal Narcissists Psychologically Healthy?: self-esteem matters, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 400–16, 2004, 3, 15382988, 1871/17274,weblink Other researchers have suggested that healthy narcissism cannot be seen as 'good' or 'bad', but that it depends on the contexts and outcomes being measured. In certain social contexts such as initiating social relationships, and with certain outcome variables, such as feeling good about oneself, healthy narcissism can be helpful. In other contexts, such as maintaining long-term relationships and with outcome variables, such as accurate self-knowledge, healthy narcissism can be unhelpful.BOOK, Campbell, W. Keith, Foster, Joshua D., The Narcissistic Self: Background, an Extended Agency Model, and Ongoing Controversies, Sedikides, Constantine, Spencer, Steven J., The Self, Psychology Press, 2007, 978-1-84169-439-9, Frontiers of Social Psychology,

Commonly used measures

Narcissistic Personality Inventory

The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) is the most widely used measure of narcissism in social psychological research. Although several versions of the NPI have been proposed in the literature, a forty-item forced-choice version (Raskin & Terry, 1988) is the one most commonly employed in current research. The NPI is based on the DSM-III clinical criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), although it was designed to measure these features in the general population. Thus, the NPI is often said to measure "normal" or "subclinical" (borderline) narcissism (i.e., in people who score very high on the NPI do not necessarily meet criteria for diagnosis with NPD).

Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory

The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI) is a widely used diagnostic test developed by Theodore Millon. The MCMI includes a scale for Narcissism. The NPI and MCMI have been found to be well correlated, r(146) = 0.55, p 

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